One of the biggest questions in San Francisco 49ers history regards what would have happened in the NFC Championship game had Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson not suffered injuries to their elbow and head, respectively. Would Kyle Shanahan’s squad have been able to pull out the win thanks to the strength of their defense and skills positions? Or would Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles have still come out on top thanks to their own high-powered offense and top-2 defense?
Though fans will never know definitively, even Lane Johnson, the Eagles’ long-time right tackle, believes the game would have been far more competitive had Purdy or even Johnson been able to finish out the contest, as he noted in an appearance on the Rich Eisen show.
“Obviously, players get motivated from that, but from what he said, it’s not too far off,” Johnson said via 49ers WebZone. “I do think, obviously, if the quarterback doesn’t go down, it is a different game. I feel like they obviously weren’t able to utilize the team that they were the majority of the second half. And so, yeah, I believe it would have been a lot more competitive game.”
Considering the 49ers didn’t score a single point once Purdy returned to the field in the NFC Championship game, and the team was barely able to pick up a first down in the second half, it’s clear any quarterback with a working throwing arm would have fared better than the extremely limited offensive gameplan Shanahan was forced to rely on in Week 21. Whether or not the 49ers would have won the game with Purdy, or even a third quarterback like Jacob Eason, who was on the practice squad down the stretch, under center, however, will seemingly be relegated to beerhall debates for the end of time.
The NFL Has Officially Changed the Rules for QB3
After being forced to play an injured Purdy against the Eagles in their most important game of the year, the 49ers proposed a rule change that would allow teams to dress a third quarterback in case of an emergency.
On May 22nd, that rule officially passed.
One hour and 30 minutes prior to kickoff, each club is required to establish its 45-player Active List for the game by notifying the Referee of the players on its Inactive List for that game. Each club may also designate one emergency third quarterback from its 53-player Active/Inactive List (i.e., elevated players are not eligible for designation) who will be eligible to be activated during the game, if the club’s first two quarterbacks on its game day Active List are not able to participate in the game due to injury or disqualification (activation cannot be a result of a head coach’s in-game decision to remove a player from the game due to performance or conduct). If either of the injured quarterbacks is cleared by the medical staff to return to play, the emergency third quarterback must be removed from the game and is not permitted to continue to play quarterback or any other position, but is eligible to return to the game to play quarterback if another emergency third quarterback situation arises.
With three quarterbacks on their 90-man roster who started games in 2022, plus a fourth in Brandon Allen, who has been in the NFL since 2016, it would appear John Lynch has put together a QBs room that can take advantage of this new rule.
The San Francisco 49ers Can Ease Christian McCaffrey’s Mind
With the new quarterback rule officially passed, folks from all over the sports world weighed in on the news, with the Philadelphia Inquirer notably declaring that “The Eagles beat the 49ers so hard the NFL had to change its rules.”
Ian Rapoport, the NFL Network’s National Insider, decided to get in on the fun too, retweeting his own reporting with some very fun editorialization.
“With this bylaw, Christian McCaffrey will never have to warm up at QB again,” Rapoport wrote.
While FanDuel did point out in the comments that McCaffrey is a more than capable thrower of the football, as he launched a beautiful ball to Brandon Aiyuk in the team’s Week 8 win over the Los Angeles Rams, the 49rs pushed for the rule change for a reason and will be more than happy to have a player who practices at the position under center should disaster strike.